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Over 9,300 children lost parents or were abandoned in pandemic, NCPCR informs Supreme Court

Over 9,300 children have either lost their parents or were abandoned in the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020, the NCPCR has informed the Supreme Court.

CITY  EXPRESS  NEWS 

  NewDelhi June,1,2021: In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has said that a 6-step scheme has been devised to monitor the wellbeing of children orphaned due to Covid-19 or those who have lost one parent.

According to the affidavit, data of 9,346 affected children have been uploaded on the newly created Bal Swaraj portal, which includes data on 1,742 children who lost both parents, 7,464 now in a single-parent household, 140 have been abandoned from March 2020 to May 29, 2021.

Out of all these children, 1,224 are now living with a guardian, 985 with a family member who is not designated as a legal guardian, while 6612 are living with a single parent. In addition, 31 children have been sent to the special adoption agency.

According to the data submitted to the Supreme Court, the maximum number of orphaned and abandoned children were seen in Madhya Pradesh where 318 children were orphaned and 104 were abandoned.

Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of children who lost one parent 1,830 children are now living in single-parent households after the death of a parent due to Covid-19.

UP also has the highest number of children in “vulnerable position” with 2,110 children in total who have been orphaned, abandoned or have lost one parent. Bihar has the second-highest number, with 1,327 vulnerable children, including 292 orphaned and 1,035 in single-parent households.

The age division of the children further shows that the “vulnerable children” include 788 under 3 years of age while the older children are as follows:

1,515 children in 4to 7-year age group.

3,711 children in 8 to 13-year age group.

1,620 children in 14 to 15-year age group.

1,712 children in 16 to 17-year age group.

The NCPCR in its affidavit has also stated that the “Commission is of the opinion that the children who have lost either of the parent to Covid-19 and have been placed with the surviving single parent are also in need of financial assistance and can be entitled to implemented government schemes”.

In addition, recommendations have been made by the NCPCR to ensure that the schooling of the children is not affected as far as possible.

It has passed the recommendations for the state governments, District Education Officers (DEO) and schools to take appropriate steps to ensure that even for students studying in private schools, the school fee could be borne by the government. These instructions are:

a) In case of death of one or both parents of the child and/or the earning member of the family and the child is studying in private school, the expenditure on elementary education of such children in the same school may be borne by the appropriate Government under section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act, 2009.

b) For this, the child along with guardian/ any member of the family; and/or the school where the child is studying shall approach the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the district. Based on proceedings before the CWC, the child may be included in the list of children already admitted in the school under section 12 (1)(c) of the RTE Act, 2009. The school shall then follow the appropriate procedure to raise the demand for reimbursement of the expenditure as per respective State RTE Rules.

These steps will be taken for children from Classes 1-8.

For Classes above 8, which is beyond the scope of the RTE, the state governments have been directed to devise guidelines for schools and/ or issue necessary directions and/or devise a policy for reimbursing the expenditure on education of these children.

The NCPCR affidavit also states that under the newly launched scheme, PM-CARES for Children, a “number of benefits were announced by the Prime Minister of India impacted by the current COVID Pandemic to support children”.

The Supreme Court had last week asked for the data from various states and NCPCR. The bench headed by Justice L Nageshwar Rao had also noted that it is the “obligation of the authorities to ensure that these children are taken care of”. The bench is set to hear the matter later on Tuesday.

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